Foiling fraud

Stewart Title of Alaska has operated in the 49th state for 25 years. In that time the company has seen quite a few changes. Its changed its name from Pacific Rim Title through a merger and grown from seven to 32 employees. The one thing that hasnt changed is the companys commitment to excellent customer service in title work and escrow services. Stewart's vision for the company is to provide magnificent service inspired by professionals. This is a goal that we strive for every day, said Sarah Nelson, account assistant for Stewart Title of Alaska. Through its escrow services, Stewart Title manages the closing process for real estate and loan transactions for hundreds of customers buying or selling property. Since Stewart Title is essentially the middle man between buyers and sellers, employees deal with large sums of money constantly going in and out of the company. This is especially true in the summer when people are buying and selling more property. During the year, the money coming in and the money going out can total hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars, said Nelson. One of the ways money goes out is through checks cut by the company. Its a task for which timing and quantity fluctuate from day to day. Sometimes we are only cutting a few checks on a (transaction) file, but sometimes we cut a dozen checks or so on each file. With such variation and so much money flowing through Stewart Title, it creates the perfect mix for someone to perpetuate fraud. Luckily, in the six years that Nelson has worked in the disbursement section at Stewart Title, she hasnt seen any. And to keep it that way Stewart Title signed up for First Nationals cash management fraud protection service, Positive Pay. Nelson says she likes the fact that Positive Pay is like an extra set of eyes looking to catch fraudulent checks. Its nice because everyday we send First National a list of all the checks that we cut for the day. They go through and if a check (presented for payment) doesnt match, theyll e-mail me the next morning and ask if we want to pay on these. Thats a great safety feature, to do that double check and triple check. Since signing up for Positive Pay in February 2006, Nelson says Stewart Title hasnt experienced any fraud. But she says Positive Pay doesnt just help protect the company from scammers, it also helps catch mistakes made unintentionally by employees. We have had a few instances where we actually cut a check for a certain amount, but the bank caught it as a different amount. Especially with our volume, its very nice to have somebody go that extra step to make sure that everything is correct. Its that extra step that keeps Stewart Title from worrying about becoming a victim of fraud and instead, lets the company concentrate on its commitment to excellent customer service. Return to front page

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